Squash: Brilliant Gaultier steams into British Open quarters

Gregory Gaultier, the only Frenchman to win the British Open, marched into the quarter-finals on Thursday as he chases a hat-trick of titles in squash's most prestigious event.

The 34-year-old needed just over 30 minutes to hammer Cameron Pilley, the World Series finals runner-up, 11-1, 11-3, 11-2 to confirm himself as the most in-form of all the leading players.

Mathieu Castagnet guaranteed a French semi-finalist by beating Max Lee, the world number 17 from Hong Kong, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9 to earn a last-eight meeting with Gaultier.

Gaultier's movement was as good as ever but it was aided greatly by an ability to camp in the centre of the court for such long periods of time that Pilley found it increasingly hard to get the ball past the third seed, let alone make him retrieve.

The capable and very experienced Aussie was often left gesturing, gasping or smiling in exasperation and admiration at an opponent who was also error-free.

"You work so hard every day on so many things and sometimes it just clicks," said Gaultier, who won the Swedish Open and the Windy City Open in Chicago in February, overcoming world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy and world champion Karim Gawad in the process.

"I am feeling great. I haven't gone this well for many years. But you still have to anticipate what's happening when you get on court and work out a tactical plan, that's how you win."

It brought to mind Gaultier's first-day pronouncement that "I feel good and maybe I can get this trophy back again".

This sounded like a gauntlet thrown down to Elshorbagy, the British Open winner for the last two years, and to Gawad, the number two seed, and perhaps to the unpredictable Ramy Ashour, the British Open champion four years ago.

"He is such a nice guy," Castagnet said of his compatriot Gaultier, "but it is not easy to cope with him."

It was a cleverly paced performance by Castagnet in only his third tournament back after six months out with injury, prompting an assessment that "sometimes it was not easy to move -- I am now as red as my t-shirt".

The tournament giant-killer, 16-year-old Nada Abbas, was halted in the women's draw.

The Egyptian was ousted in five games by the long reach of Donna Urquhart, the left-handed Australian 15th seed.

Urquhart will play Sarah-Jane Perry, the seventh-seeded English woman, for a place in the semi-finals.